Stop Weeping Over the Angel of Liberty

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Guest contributor Cooper Jennings addresses the Statue of Liberty Angel and perceived plotholes.

“Angels? Manhattan? Oh my goodness – does that mean…? What if…?” We all thought it… What if the Statue of Liberty was in fact… And was it? I hope an exploration of this question will present an alternative interpretation regarding the use of this landmark.

What did we know? What did we hope? We were aware that the Statue of Liberty would likely feature – how could it not? The Angels Take Manhattan? Imaginations ran wild! “A giant Weeping Angel encased in the city that never sleeps, a prison where someone, anyone will always be watching…?” “What if the world were to blink simultaneously? Enough time for this mammoth creature to wreak untold havoc?” The Statue of Liberty – it will be central to the story, right?

No, this was always about the Ponds, and the Ponds needed something pretty unique to put a stop to their journey. Yet the Statue was used. To good effect? Some would say no, I would say it depends on what you choose to believe the Statue to be.

Is a plothole bad? Does a hiccup in the continuity affect your enjoyment? Does contradiction tarnish an episode? What’s your approach to curious plot devices that sit awkwardly in an episode?

I love Doctor Who, no doubt like you, and I trust in its cultural influence that it will outlive everyone who produces it or attempts to destroy it. I mentioned the film Prometheus in my previous article, and like Prometheus, I believe Doctor Who’s cultural position overrides plotholes and inaccuracies, rendering them all explainable to those who love it, who invest an interest in debating answers, filling in gaps and untangling contradictions.

I trust in Moffat who, for the most part, doesn’t tell us what to think or what is certain, but offers space for ideas to inhabit and evolve. This outward-in Moffat open-ended approach is evident in the monsters he creates; rather than start with a monster stereotype and make it contemporary, he takes something contemporary and, with our fears in mind, he makes the monster. I suspect few television shows are so acutely designed with us in mind! It’s an active experience to watch Doctor Who and often there are dots to connect. Or “plotholes” which require us to look in more detail at that which bothers us – and we make it fit.

Did the Statue of Liberty bother us? Why? Because someone, ANYone, surely saw/heard the Statue as it approached the roof. Cars drive past with no urgency or terror. The monster does not seize Amy and Rory who frequently blink and take their eyes off it.

I can allow these niggles to affect my enjoyment of the episode from now on or find a way to believe it all makes perfect sense…! And I think it’s possible!

So… If it is hollow, making unexplainable noise through New York without causing citywide panic, and not actually attacking those who openly ignore it… what is its purpose? I have to ask… Is it even real? What is this Statue that can defy so many Angel laws? It is the image of an Angel.

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We know that the image of an Angel is itself an Angel… but we don’t know to what functional extent. We have seen enough of them to deduce that the Angels have life (that is, to some unknown degree they are alive, or used to be) – but does an image of an Angel live by the same definition? The image of an Angel is itself an Angel – but it IS an image (be it a 4D one). Therefore, to stay alive, it requires something different. Unlike Angels who survive being unseen, the image of an Angel exists purely in sight – an image requires observation. The image of an Angel is not a reproduction. It has, no doubt, some different capabilities, a purpose to manipulate and infiltrate the mind (as it did to Amy in The Time of Angels). Time displacement feeds the Angels, it is therefore a precious and particular technique they must monopolise in order to survive – it is not a technique I suspect an image would be granted or would require for survival as it does not live and die in the same way.

The projection in TTOA didn’t attack Amy, we don’t know what affect it would have had on Amy upon reaching her, if any, yet we do know that it was successful in inflicting the most brutal mind manipulation. We also learnt that the Angels have a sense of humour! To the Angels, what’s funnier than using the image of the Statue of Liberty to mock and trap escaping victims in New York! As in TTOA, we don’t see the Statue of Liberty attack – even with ample opportunity whilst Amy and Rory are busy nattering! You could argue that it is the Statue that displaces the victims on the roof… Then why doesn’t it?! Amy and Rory are sitting ducks. More likely that the Statue would eat them or crush them (we know Angels enjoy a physical kill) and yet it remains most likely that this image of an Angel is there to intimidate, terrify and send victims running in fear back down the stairs from whence they came and directly into the arms of the smiling Angels. Besides, surely something of that size, if indeed a true Angel, it would need to displace the whole city to feed its appetite (which I’m sure it would do sooner than build a battery farm!)

If you consider that the Statue of Liberty is the image of an Angel in the mind’s eye of those it hunts, it explains why cars casually drive past and why the city appears not to notice their most prominent landmark go for a walk. We could easily argue that the image of an Angel is in all in the mind… That the Angel is in the eye of the beholder/s. Real enough to manipulate the single or collective psychology who believe to see it, enough to see them fall victim to the organ grinders.

However blindly difficult the problem – I hope any thorny Doctor Who episode you love can be de-thorned and filled in with a bit of deduction, supposition and a willingness to believe!